SANDPOINT — CHAFE stands for “Cycle HArd For Education,” which is exactly what nearly 500 people did during the annual ride in June.
With a record number of riders in this year’s CHAFE 150 Gran Fondo, the Rotary Club of Sandpoint presented the Lake Pend Oreille School District with a check for $60,000 on Wednesday.
“We are absolutely thrilled,” Andra Murray, LPOSD director of Teaching and Learning, told Rotary members during Wednesday’s meeting. “Thanks to you, we will be maintaining our after-school programming and adding another position to Southside Elementary. Along with that, you are helping us continue that push for literacy excellence.”
Murray said the CHAFE funds will positively impact 1,900 elementary students, provide professional learning for 80 staff members, and support many families in Bonner County.
CHAFE is a one-day ride, held on the third Saturday of June each year, with the option of going the full 150 miles, or 100, 80, 40 or 30 miles. Riders of the longer routes make their way from Sandpoint to Bonner Ferry, on to Troy, Mont., through the Bull River Valley and back to Sandpoint.
“It has turned out to be an amazing ride,” said Mel Dick, Sandpoint Rotary president. “It has been named one of the top rides in the country.”
Now in its 12th year, the event was originally organized by Panhandle Alliance for Education, as the brain child of Brad Williams of the CPA firm Williams, Schiller & Styer, formerly Williams & Parsons. He now serves as the event chair for CHAFE.
“If you want to give away a substantial amount of money, you want to make sure it’s sustainable, you want it to make a difference,” Williams said. “You want to create something lasting, and that’s not easy. So we have had this partnership with the district for a number of years, and I think they have done a very nice job of dealing with that ... and I am sure they will do a great job with this going forward.”
In addition to the $60,000 from CHAFE, Williams presented Murray with a check for $3,000 from the Paula Hall Memorial fund, in honor of his former partner at the firm.
Rotary took over the CHAFE event seven years ago and, for six years, the funds went to LPOSD in support of local students on the autism spectrum. This is the first year the funds have gone to support the after-school program, as it was only implemented in 2018. Prior to the start of the 2018-2019 school year, the district was awarded a five-year federal grant through the 21st Century Learning Center program. The program has been successful at the two elementary schools, Farmin-Stidwell and Kootenai, which is why this year the district is using a large portion of the CHAFE donation toward a new staff member to expand the program to Southside, Murray said. They will also be expanding the existing programs to give more kids the opportunity to participate.
Betsy Dalessio, Farmin-Stidwell assistant principal who served as the director for the 21st CCLC program this past year, said there are 165 children enrolled and 11 staff between Farmin and Kootenai, with 30 families on the waitlist.
“So the program is thriving,” she said.
As for early literacy, Murray said it is important to target kids at a young age, because if they read by third grade, it “changes the trajectory of their college career and life.” Some of the recent initiatives toward literacy in the district includes a new language arts program at the elementary level, as well as the purchase of intervention materials to give kids a boost.
At the beginning of the school year in fall 2018, 51 percent of the district’s students in K-3 were proficient readers per the Idaho Reading Indicator, the state-required reading assessment. By spring 2019, Murray said, 78 percent of the students in those grades were at level.
With a 22-year background as a math teacher, LPOSD Superintendent Tom Albertson said he believes that if every kid in the district was reading at grade-level by third grade, it would also translate to their performance in other subjects such as math.
“So I just want to say thank you so much for the trust and support in this program,” Albertson told the Rotary group.
Over the past seven years, Rotary has donated more than $320,000 in CHAFE funds to the school district. About 145 people helped out to make the event happen this year, and Dick recognized and thanked the many sponsors of CHAFE during the meeting as well.
“We could not do it without you guys and the support of all of our sponsors,” he said.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.